UC Irvine about-turn on appointment

September 28, 2007

A US university has performed a U'turn by appointing a top academic after having rescinded his job offer.

University of California, Irvine had offered Duke University law professor Erwin Chemerinsky the job of dean of its new Law School. However, the offer was withdrawn after, it was alleged, conservative politicians tried to dissuade the university from appointing the liberal-minded Professor Chemerinsky, who has written opinion pieces criticising the Bush Administration. The university denied the job offer was withdrawn over politics.

But the move created an outcry over academic freedom, and even scholars whose views differed from Professor Chemerinsky's rallied to his defence. Several days later, a joint statement by university chancellor Michael Drake and Professor Chemerinsky announced his appointment. Dr Drake and Professor Chemerinsky had met and addressed many issues in depth including "several areas of miscommunication and misunderstanding", it said.

The university has promised that the Law School will "be founded on the bedrock principle of academic freedom".

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